Yussif Mahmout

Posted on Tuesday, July 24th, 2018 by John Wood
Yussif Mahmout was a great turn-of-the-century catch wrestler who methodically made his way through wrestler of prominence in America until he could at last face Frank Gotch at Dexter Park Pavilion in Chicago on April 14th, 1909.

Mahmout caused an uproar when he entered the ring barefoot as was the custom in his native Bulgaria. The Gotch camp protested, believing it was a ploy to avoid Gotch’s vicious toe hold. The referee ruled in Mahmout’s favor and the match commenced as originally intended… it turned out to be a moot point with the American champion throwing the Bulgarian twice inside of seventeen minutes.

Martin “Farmer” Burns

Posted on Thursday, March 8th, 2018 by John Wood
Iowa-born Martin “Farmer” Burns was a champion wrestler and America’s premier grappler at the turn of the last century. The “Old Farmer” trained hard, and that made him hard to beat. Plenty of wrestler’s bridges gave him a 20″ neck at a bodyweight of only 165 pounds and his level of conditioning was legendary, regularly tiring out much larger and stronger opponents until they could easily be pinned. Burns wrestled over 6000 matches, lost only 7 and held the World’s Championship on two separate occasions. Once his competitive career came to an end, the “Old Farmer” as he was known, focused on managing and training other wrestlers and athletes. His most famous pupil was Frank Gotch, who, thanks in large part to Farmer Burns’ coaching, became arguably the greatest wrestler of all time.
All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2018 by John Wood and Thunderdome Media Inc., Not to be reproduced without permission, All Rights Reserved
Author: John Wood. All contents, including images and text, copyright © 2005-2018 by John Wood and Thunderdome Media Inc. Not to be reproduced without permission. All rights reserved. We will most likely grant permission but please contact us if you would like to repost. IMPORTANT: Equipment and books, courses etc. pictured in blog posts are generally not available for sale unless specifically noted.

Carl Busch

Posted on Friday, February 2nd, 2018 by John Wood
Carl Busch was a great strongman and wrestler who was active in the early 20th century. After winning the 1901 German national title, he toured Europe performing feats of strength and wrestling all comers. He even wrestled the great Frank Gotch to a draw under Greco-Roman rules. Busch also wrestled the likes of George Hackenschmidt, Professor Roller, Heinrich Weber, Yousef Holusane, Fred Beell, and even Farmer Burns. As far as feats of strength, Busch could bent press 250 pounds at a bodyweight of only 175 pounds. In 1891, Busch started his own circus which is actually still going strong today if you can believe it.

Training for Gotch

Posted on Sunday, December 10th, 2017 by John Wood
George Hackenshmidt drew a crowd while in training to face Frank Gotch for the second time, in Chicago in 1911. Hack is shown here building his neck strength with the the wrestler’s bridge. His training partners Dr. Benjamin Roller and Gus ‘Americus’ Schoenlein, look on.

Dr. Benjamin Roller

Posted on Wednesday, November 1st, 2017 by John Wood
Dr. Benjamin Franklin “B.F.” Roller was an early catch wrestler who sparred with the likes of Frank Gotch, George Hackenschmidt, The Great Gama, and Stanislaus Zbyszko. Aside from wrestling, Roller was a great athlete in other sports, captaining the football and track teams at DePauw University where he attended in the late 1800’s. Roller briefly held the world record in the discus.

Roller was actually a legitimate Doctor having graduated from medical school at the University of Pennsylvania. Roller played a bit of professional football to pay the bills after that but eventually accepted a professorship at the University of Washington. Shortly after, in a rather interesting twist, he instead chose to chase fame and fortune — mostly fortune — as a professional wrestler.. Roller’s first professional match was against Jack Carkeek whom he defeated in two falls after 17 minutes and for which he received $1600 which was a rather princely sum in the early 20th century.

Roller was a very good (but not great) wrestler although he did win his fair share of matches, and held the American Heavyweight title on three occasions. Roller wrestled the likes of Farmer Burns, Fred Beell, Raymond Cazeaux, Hjalmar Lundin, Raoul Le Boucher, George Lurich, Jim Londos, Ed Lewis, and Joe Stecher (among others.) Eventually he became a training partner for George Hackenschmidt during the time Hack famously tussled with Frank Gotch.

In the years after, Roller wrote a syndicated column for newspapers around the country on health and physical culture topics and even came up with his own training system dubbed “Rollerism.”

Gotch vs. Hackenschmidt

Posted on Wednesday, January 25th, 2017 by John Wood

The greatest pro wrestling match ever held is undoubtedly on April 3rd, 1908 when the Frank Gotch and George “The Russian Lion” Hackenschmidt stepped in the ring to face each other after years of build-up. The undefeated Hackenschmidt was favored to win but after two hours of grappling, he finally submitted to an ankle lock by the American Champion Gotch. The match took place at Chicago’s Dexter Park Pavilion. The referee (middle, above) was Ed Smith.

Gotch and Hackenschmidt would face each other once again on September 4, 1911, this time at Comiskey Park stadium in front of 30,000 fans. Gotch won the rematch in two straight falls and would go on to hold the heavyweight title until he retired in 1913.

George Hackenschmidt

Posted on Sunday, August 28th, 2016 by John Wood


“World Champion Wrestler and Record Setting Strongman Reveals All…”

George “The Russian Lion” Hackenschmidt has the unique distinction of being one of the first well known physique stars, a champion wrestler, legendary strongman, AND outspoken strength author.

He was a man of imaginable power. In fact, many of “Hack’s” greatest strength records still stand and his first wrestling bout against Frank Gotch in 1908 is widely regarded as the greatest professional wrestling match of all time…

Later that same year, Hackenschmidt published The Way to Live which was part autobiography and part training course. 21 editions later, this book was considered the highest selling book on physical culture ever written!

In The Way to Live, Hackenschmidt covers a wide range of topics, including:

How he lived … his methods of exercise … training with weights … training without weights … training for young and old … nutrition and diet … building and cultivating will power … feats of strength with heavy weights … hindrances to the acquisition of strength … tips on bathing … rest and wholesome sleep … variations in exercise … exercises for athletes, etc. and a complete course in barbell and dumbbell training…

Hackenschmidt closes the book telling the story of his life including his early days under the guidance of Dr. von Krajewski (physician to the Czar of Russia), and Dr. Theodore Siebert, the famous German weightlifting pioneer. He relates tales of his wrestling bouts with the likes of Zbysco, Lurich, Jenkins, Farmer Burns, and, of course, his most famous match against Frank Gotch.

This 5″ x 7″ trade paperback high-quality modern reprint edition features new material not found in the original printing: 173 pages, over 89 rare photos and illustrations (several of which have been added to the modern reprint edition and did not appear in the original version), and a unique look into the life of one of the strongest man who ever lived, holder of many world strength records, and world champion catch-as-catch-can wrestler.

Order now!The Way to Live by George Hackenschmidt
_________ $19.99 plus s/h

Frank Gotch’s Step Over Toe Hold

Posted on Saturday, May 14th, 2016 by John Wood

Frank Gotch’s step over toe hold was the most feared submission move probably of all time. It could be applied quickly and efficiently from almost any angle and few people knew how to defend it — his opponents never knew what him ’em.

He used it to dispatch the likes of George Hackenschmidt, Benjamin Roller and Stanislaus Zbyszko.

Gotch, as masterfully trained by Farmer Burns, had two main weapons: a precise execution of his moves and holds, and an almost superhuman level of conditioning — and it should also be noted that neither of which require innate talent.

All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2018 by John Wood and Thunderdome Media Inc., Not to be reproduced without permission, All Rights Reserved
Author: John Wood. All contents, including images and text, copyright © 2005-2018 by John Wood and Thunderdome Media Inc. Not to be reproduced without permission. All rights reserved. We will most likely grant permission but please contact us if you would like to repost. IMPORTANT: Equipment and books, courses etc. pictured in blog posts are generally not available for sale unless specifically noted.

Hjalmar Lundin

Posted on Friday, March 11th, 2016 by John Wood
A look at the great Hjalmar Lundin, who was a tremendous strongman as well as wrestler. Lundin was the heavyweight champion in his native land of Sweden and eventually made his way to American shores by performing as a strongman in the Ringling Brother’s Circus. Lundin’s signature feat was The Tomb of Hercules” with 20 men see-sawing on his chest.

On the wrestling mat, Lundin tussled with the best of them: George Bothner, George Hackenschmidt, Frank Gotch, Tom Jenkins, “Yankee” Joe Rogers, Stanislaus Zbyzko and Youssof “The Terrible Turk” Ismael. It was Lundin who gave George Hackenschmidt his first wrestling lessons and actually defeated Frank Gotch (albeit in a Graeco-Roman-style bout.)

Magnus Bech-Olsen

Posted on Saturday, May 4th, 2013 by John Wood

Magnus Bech-Olsen

Denmark-born Magnus Bech-Olsen won the wrestling world championship in 1892 and held the title until 1903. During his competitive years, Bech-Olsen had many memorable battles with the likes of Karl Abs, Stanislaus Zbyszko, Alex Aberg, Antonie Pierri,Paul Pons, “Ursus” Jankowski, Paul Belling, Ernst Roeber, Constant Le Marin and even Frank Gotch. A few years after retiring from wrestling, Bech Olsen established his own traveling circus.